Islands panic over mistaken missile text
HONOLULU » A false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii sent the islands into a panic Saturday, with people abandoning cars in a highway and preparing to flee their homes until officials said the cellphone alert was a mistake.
It wasn’t clear exactly what happened — House Speaker Scott Saiki said someone pushed the wrong button, and the White House said the episode was “purely a state exercise.”
But for nearly 40 minutes, it seemed like the world was about to end in Hawaii, an island paradise already jittery over the threat of nuclear-tipped missiles from North Korea.
The emergency alert, which was sent to cellphones statewide just before 8:10 a.m., said: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
On the H-3, a major highway north of Honolulu, vehicles sat empty after drivers ran to a nearby tunnel.